THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH UNTIL 5 NOVEMBER 2022
BOX OFFICE 01752 267222
RUNNING TIME – 2 HOURS 15 MINUTES (INCLUDING ONE INTERVAL)
3 NOVEMBER 2022
It is almost unheard of for me to review the same production of a show within only a few months – this is an exception – albeit the location is a different one. Carl Grose has found a very happy place at Theatre Royal Plymouth, especially in The Drum auditorium and this Ha-Hum-Ah/Minack Theatre production of his play ‘Superstition Mountain’ fits it well.
When I reviewed the production in May of this year it was at the rather smaller St Austell Arts Centre; it has travelled to quite a number of UK venues of all shapes and sizes – adaptable it certainly is. The story of the three Gunwallow brothers from Cornwall, dealing with their the death of their father and the huge debts they find themselves with, is incredibly funny and strangely endearing. Their quest to find some long lost gold in the mountains of Arizona – borne of stories they were told by their Dad – takes on the mini-epic genre.
Disorganised, uncoordinated, unworldly and disunited the brothers deal with many hurdles on their journey before the story comes to an end. Played to the hilt by Ben Kernow as the ticking time-bomb, eldest brother, Slim, Darren Seed as the drug dealing Dwayne and Jack Brownridge-Kelly as the rather more sensitive younger brother Mark – the story is both far-fetched and utterly believable at one and the same time.
What came across to me more on second viewing was the depth to the piece. The importance of Family and Brotherly Love shine through; the trio are all very different, but they are dependent on each other – better as the sum of their parts than as individuals. With all this comes the desire to honour the memory of their Father – who may have had his own failings, but he was still their Father. Grose writes straight from the hip – the dialogue is peppered with expletives which fall naturally from the mouths of the characters, it never seems forced or gratuitous.
The simple set – the Gunwallow’s run a scrap yard in St Day – is well lit and as the action shifts across the Atlantic to desert and mine shaft – we know where we are. Millie Brolly directs with a keen eye on the clash between comedy and drama but also on the physicality of the show to which the performers give their all.
The Minack Theatre in Cornwall is world famous as a venue, and it is good to see their involvement as a production company where its name alone must help open doors. I first came across Ha-Hum-Ah Theatre in 2018, soon after it was formed; run by Ben Kernow it has at its heart, among other things, the desire to boost the theatre of Cornwall – here we have a play set in the county and written and performed by Cornishmen. It is good to see the combination coming together at The Drum.
Carl Grose’s work may not be to everyone’s taste, but I admire his off-the-wall story-telling and the creative nerve within him to put together a script such as this. And when the words are performed to this highest level, it is a joy to witness.
CAST & CREATIVES
MARK GUNWALLOW – JACK BROWNRIDGE-KELLY
SLIM GUNWALLOW – BEN KERNOW
DWAYNE GUNWALLOW – DARREN SEED
WRITER – CARL GROSE
DIRECTOR – MILLIE BROLLY
DESIGNER – MARION HARRISON
LIGHTING DESIGN – SIMON HUTCHINGS
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR – JONNY DRY
A HA-HUM-AH THEATRE/MINACK THEATRE PRODUCTION